With the increased popularity of riding longer travel bikes on increasingly bigger rides, there was an obvious need for appropriate kneepads to fill that niche. Roughly speaking, that requires something that has mid-duty on coverage, is all day comfortable, breathable, and perhaps above all, stays in place. A handful of brands have made earnest efforts over the last few years with mixed results, but Troy Lee Designs was surprisingly absent. Until now…
Falling squarely in between the “Speed” and “Raid” pads, which are XC and DH rated respectively, the new “Stage” pads are aimed at Trail through Enduro, roughly speaking. After a few months of long days in the new pads, here’s a closer look at how they’ve been working out.
- 3 sizes: XS / S, M / L, XL / XXL
- D3O impact resistant protection
- Anti-slip silicone leg grippers
- Right / Left specific
- Abrasion-resistant outer panel
- $79.00 USD
If you aren’t familiar with D3O , it’s a foam like material that is soft and pliable to the touch, at low speeds. When subjected to fast impacts it firms up. For the last few years it has been a very popular choice for cycling protective wear, for obvious reasons.
Starting up front, the Stage pads have a nicely formed, articulated pad that’s a bit more substantial than a lot of kneeguards in this category. One nice touch is that it drops down a fair bit and covers the bone below your kneecap nicely. The material wrapping around the pad itself is a tough, abrasion resistant fabric.
The backing on the Stage is a stretchy, mesh material that’s light, airy and dries rather quickly.
There are silicone bands spanning across the back of the knee which help prevent slippage. The cuffs at the bottom near the calves are relatively loose fitting – at the very least, they don’t bite in excessively.
The Stage pads are right and left specific, with silicone leg grippers at the top cuff which sit quite high above the knee, a good way up the thigh.
On the trail
When I first put the Stage pads on, I was worried that the leg grippers on the thigh would irritate me as they fit quite snugly. At 6 feet tall, 175 pounds with average proportions, the Medium / Large size is definitely the correct size for me. However, after hand stretching them a little bit, I had no issues with comfort and found that they truly didn’t budge while riding. This was refreshing as I’ve found that a surprisingly large amount of protective wear brands still haven’t figured out how to design pads that don’t slide down your leg while you’re riding.
As far as fit went, I liked the contour, size and area covered on the actual pad itself. D3O as a material itself is excellent and has proven to work nicely in both light duty and heavy duty MTB pads, among other disciplines as well. It has even found its way into shoe insoles. Anyhow, I had a few fairly minor crashes and slide outs in the Stage pads and not only did they stay put during these events, they resisted tearing or getting too banged up, while also keeping me safe. On a personal note, I really also like the Scott Soldier pads, but wish their padded cup extended a just a little bit lower, to protect the top of the Tibia. The Stage ticks this box nicely.
Regarding other comfort related factors like heat dispersion, sweat management and (not) chaffing, the Stage was excellent as well. I generally have a bit of an aversion to pads that almost resemble a sleeve. You know, the types that have a bunch of material extending up high and down low. However, the mesh material let these pads stay quite cool on warm days and the perspiration didn’t build up and make me feel like I was wearing a wetsuit. On long days I didn’t feel any pinching, blood circulation cut-off or notable discomfort, but they did provide a very safe, secure feeling.
All in all, the Stage pads are very much worth considering as nearly a “do it all” kneepad. They might be a bit much for XC and not quite enough for DH, but should cover the very broad ground of everything in between very well. If there was one potential downside, it could be that the thigh gripper may be a little too tight for some, but alas that is what prevents them from slipping and I didn’t really notice that factor once I was pedaling anyway. Perhaps it would be best to try them on first at a shop if that makes you hesitate, but aside from that I can’t see any other potential shortcomings in their overall design. While I have a handful of other pads in my stinky gear bag, these have been the go to ever since I got ahold of them.